Skip to comments.Cuba Calls U.S. LatAm Official Reich a 'Terrorist'
Posted on 03/15/2002 12:50:00 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
HAVANA (Reuters) - In a fast-escalating war of words between the White House's new Latin America policy chief and President Fidel Castro's government, Havana Thursday called Otto Reich a "terrorist" with a "sick" hatred of the Cuban Revolution.
Cuba's withering comments on Assistant Secretary of State Reich came two days after he labeled the Castro government "a failed, corrupt, dictatorial, murderous regime" in probably the strongest words to date by the Bush administration on Cuba.
The exchange further puts paid to speculation of a U.S.-Cuba rapprochement following cooperation over the transfer of prisoners by the United States from Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and the first sale of U.S. goods to Cuba in 40 years.
State TV aired a round-table discussion on Reich which was announced earlier Thursday by Cuba's ruling Communist Party, in a short communique on the front page of its daily Granma, as a discussion on "Otto Reich: a Terrorist in the U.S. Government."
"Right from the start of his activities in such an important position, he has begun pouring out his sick and visceral hatred of the Cuban Revolution," the communique said of Reich, a Cuban-American known for his opposition to Castro.
Reich also played a high-profile role in former President Ronald Reagan's controversial fight against Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government, an ally of Castro's, in the 1980s.
That campaign produced the biggest political scandal of the Reagan presidency when administration officials were found to have cut a secret deal with Iran to trade arms for money that was then funneled to the Contras in violation of U.S. law.
'ACCOMPLICE OF TERRORISM, GENOCIDE'
"We are faced with an accomplice of drug-trafficking, terrorism and genocide in Central America," state commentator Randy Alfonso, who is a mouthpiece for the Castro government's opinions, said on the two-hour TV program Thursday night.
In his speech Tuesday, Reich firmly opposed opening the U.S. economy to Cuba, which has been subject to an embargo by Washington since soon after Castro's 1959 revolution. "We are not going to help Fidel Castro stay in power by opening up our markets to Cuba," he said.
In a list of derogatory epithets, Granma called Reich a "spokesman" for the Cuban American "mafia"; "godfather" of anti-Castro extremists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch accused of masterminding the bombing of a Cuban jet in 1976 that killed 73 people; "professional liar" during the Iran-Contra scandal; and a "mediocre and plodding" man.
State TV commentator Alonso said Reich was a "direct participant in the reinforcing of the criminal U.S. policy against Cuba." Fellow commentator Reinaldo Taladrid lambasted him as "a brother of the entire mafia" in the anti-Castro Cuban American community in Miami.
Havana's communique added that his appointment was "imposed by the Bush administration, exploiting a Congressional break."
Bush named Reich under a so-called recess appointment, bypassing a Congress that had blocked the nomination for months and assuring that Reich will hold the post at least this year.
Senior Democrats bitterly opposed his nomination and were angered by his appointment. They say Bush made the appointment to appease the powerful Cuban-American community in Florida, where Bush's brother Jeb is running for re-election as governor this year.
Supporters, however, say Reich is a skilled diplomat and no evidence was ever presented that he engaged in illegal activities when he campaigned against the Sandinistas as head of the now defunct Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean between 1983 and 1986.
FREE OTTO [Excerpt] "I need Otto Reich in place," Secretary of State Colin Powell pleaded with senators on October 3. Eight weeks later, Reich's State Department office literally remains empty, its desk unoccupied and bookshelves bare. Even as an overworked career diplomat juggles crucial security and economic matters in Reich's absence, Dodd could care less.
"That nomination's not going anywhere. That's the end of it," Dodd recently snapped. He has hurled at Reich a number of easily refuted ethical charges pertaining to his 1980s service as director of State's Office of Public Diplomacy and as Ambassador to Venezuela. However Dodd will not let his subcommittee hear Reich defend himself. Perhaps Dodd fears looking foolish once Reich demonstrates his innocence.[End Excerpt]
Accused spy for Cuba may cut plea deal--[Excerpt] WASHINGTON - Nearly six months after the FBI arrested a senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency and charged her with spying for Cuba, her attorneys are in behind-the-scenes talks with federal prosecutors about her cooperation.
Those familiar with similar espionage cases say Ana Belen Montes, 45, may already be sharing information with prosecutors in hopes of reducing a potentially severe sentence.
Montes' high-profile lawyer, Plato Cacheris, has represented some of the most prominent spies of recent years, including FBI mole Robert Hanssen and CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames, both of whom agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in return for avoiding the death penalty. [End Excerpt]
[Excerpts] The Bush administration has ordered what it calls the first comprehensive review of U.S. policy on Cuba in several years in an effort to find more effective ways to bring about democratic changes on the island, senior administration officials say.
Otto J. Reich, the Cuban-born top State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs, said in a telephone interview that he has ordered a review of all areas of the policy, including the four-decades-old U.S. trade sanctions on the communist-ruled island. The review is scheduled to be completed within weeks, he said.
''We are going to review the whole thing,'' Reich said. ``The problem is that we have relied entirely on one component of the policy, the embargo.''
He added that U.S. foreign policy has a variety of tools at its disposal, including ''political, economic, diplomatic, informational and military components,'' and that some of these may be employed.
Asked specifically about the trade sanctions, Reich said that ``we are taking a closer look at the efficiency of our economic sanctions. I don't think we are going to loosen them. Unless we have changes in Cuba, we are not.'' [End Excerpts]
The real cause of Cuba's hardship is not the embargo but the state's Soviet-style economy. Traditional exports such as sugar cost the regime more to produce than they sell for on the global market. Tourism brings in hard currency but not nearly enough to provide for Cuba's needs. Debt payments are so uncertain that major trade partners often must extend new loans.-[End Excerpt]
Friends of Fidel--Washington Times--[Excerpt] Louisiana rice and Illinois wheat producers should not assume that selling to Havana is synonymous with getting paid. U.S taxpayers should be wary. Mr. Castro desperately needs credits and subsidies, and Washington is being pressured to provide them.
If the United States begins to subsidize trade with Cuba estimated at $100 million a year five years from now, U.S. taxpayers could be holding, or paying off, a $500 million tab. That´s real money.
Before extending Mr. Castro credit, grain growers should visit any street corner in Manhattan and observe a game played there. Called three-card monte, it consists of convincing the player that he knows exactly where the card carrying his money is. Until it disappears. In this game, the gambler takes his own chances. Where trade with Mr. Castro is concerned, the U.S. taxpayer will be left holding the losing card. -[End Excerpt]
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Gee, the press so blithely acquiesces to calling this two-bit, totalitarian thug/mass murderer "president", yet "right wing" dictators are never referred to by that title, a la Agusto Pinochet.
Memo to Reuters: Cuba is a communist dictatorship. It's based on one man rule. It is not, as your article seems to imply, a presidential system. Shame on you.
Memo to Reuters: Cuba is a communist dictatorship.
They're still having trouble with embargo and blockade.
I don't think they're about to let facts get in the way of their Leftist ideology.
Music to my ears!
Oh, no, never. And where's their "concern" for "human rights"? For "freedom" and "democracy"? Why isn't the press demanding free, open, verifiable elections in Cuba, as they would if Batista or some other "right wing" dictator were in power?
Rhetorical questions, I know...
Don't mention it =^)
that is high praise indeed! no wonder i like the guy!
The press? Get a rope!!
MRC's Special Report: Back to the "Peaceable" Paradise: Media Soldiers for the Seizure of Elian
I'm just sorry that's the strongest words the administration could come up with. I could think of lots stronger.
It's scary when Granma's lies start containing a bit of truth, like the one above.
And for our part, don't ever forget that part of Reich's job under Reagan was to lie to the American public, and get the media's help in doing it, so we would support the program that eventually becam Iran-Contra. No wonder Bush made a recess appointment, there's no way a sane Congress would put this guy back into the government knowing what he did last time he was there.
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